Highlights: If provoked, we'll retaliate, says Army Chief Bikram Singh

Highlights: If provoked, we'll retaliate, says Army Chief Bikram Singh
New Delhi:  Brigade commanders from the Indian and Pakistani armies will hold a flag meeting at 1 pm in Chakan da Bagh in Poonch along the Line of Control in Kashmir today. India will strongly protest against the killing of two soldiers last week by Pakistani troops and will warn that it must not happen again.

Army Chief Bikram Singh spoke today on the ceasefire violation and the killing of two Indian soldiers. Here are the highlights of his press conference:

  • It's a very challenging task for the media to report on these events, media has done a great job
  • I want to convey condolences to the families
  • 91 officers that have died last year. I salute them, as they have made a great sacrifice
  • My heart goes to families of soldiers who were killed and body was mutilated. It's a gruesome and unpardonable act
  • We have launched a protest through the government and the Director General of Military Operations (DGMOs)
  • What they have done is against the ethics of soldiering
  • DGMOs have conveyed that in the talk
  • We are holding a commanders' flag meeting today at 1 pm and this will be conveyed again
  • No operation conducted by Indian Army on January 6 as alleged by Pakistan
  • Commanders on LoC doing a great job, do not expect them to be timid, they need to be offensive
  • As far as a stance is concerned, beheading of soldiers not acceptable
  • Strategic nuances have been conveyed to Pakistan
  • At a military level, it is being dealt with at a technical level
  • We will uphold the ceasefire as long as it is maintained
  • We reserve the right to retaliate at the time and place of our choosing
  • I expect my commanders on the LoC to be aggressive; they must understand that the Army hierarchy is behind them
  • Talks to get Lance Naik Hemraj's head back are on at government level
  • We are with her and we understand (on Lance Naik Hemraj's wife). I am the head of the clan and I am like a father
  • We will make sure they are given all possible help
  • We will give them (to the family) all that is due and everything they are entitled to
  • Need to maintain and retain moral ascendancy at all costs
  • We have given a response in a professional manner and that is measured
  • We will not be crossing the LoC, we respect the sanctity of the LoC
  • We will retaliate if provoked and fired upon, and let me tell you we have fired back
  • Need to keep morale of the officers high at the LoC and to be active alert and carry out operations 
  • The options are available at the military domain at the tactical level
  • As far as military options are concerned, we have adequate resources and adequate experience, we have professional commanders
  • With regard to operation per se, these are localised and can be dealt with at the tactical level
  • The decapitation of our soldier has hurt us and we will respond and protest strongly
  • Pakistan uses terrorists for operations. We cannot rule out the possibility.
  • Home Minister made a statement, that must have been based on intelligence inputs available... we have known them to use that
  • Decision to go to war is an extension of state policy
  • This is an operation at the tactical level, this will be dealt at the operational level
  • If things flare up, then the other options come in
  • Red lines are boundaries of tolerance - we are angered, we are hurt
  • But there are other elements to national power - diplomatic, economic - to deal with it
  • At an opportune moment I will go down and pep the troops
  • I have spoken to the Army Commander, he has been there and the morale is sky high
  • What impact it has on the composite dialogue will be seen at the level of government
  • I am sure government will convey our concerns - beheading of a soldier unpardonable
  • This type of operation needs planning of at least 15 days
  • In these ops, no one would like to leave tell-tale signs behind
  • The way it was launched indicative of pre-meditated, pre-planned action
  • Nuclear sabre rattling does not come into this
  • This is a tactical level operation
  • We are conveying our anger through political, diplomatic and military channels

On Siachen

  • It is strategically important to us, it's our area and we need to continue to hold it
  • Demilitarising only on backdrop of the trust deficit that needs to be addressed prior to that
  • We got to be cautious, pragmatic and deliberate
  • We have shed a lot of blood in gaining strategic advantage here, let's value that sacrifice

On Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)

  • There are two categories of AFSPA - 1958 (which is applicable in the North East) and 1990 (which is applicable to Jammu and Kashmir)
  • AFSPA give us additional powers to operate in volatile areas where you can't differentiate between a friend and foe
  • We need to give soldiers that power to act in that situations
  • We should not dilute powers of the act, it is an enabler
  • Any decision to revoke it should be taken after inputs from all the security agencies and stakeholders

On Capt Saurabh Kalia, Lans Naik Hemraj

  • It is the government's decision to raise the issue; our sympathies are with Capt Kalia's father
  • In a civilised environment, there are ethics of soldiering that we need to engage in
  • We need to respect soldiers; it should be raised at the highest level for Pak's army's accountability

On defences with China

  • We have very focussed initiatives along the northern border with regard to infrastructure and upgrading our defences

On previous instances of beheading of soldier

  • The situation is dynamic along the LoC - localised operations in the area of Uri-Rampur and in the area of Poonch-KG-BG
  • Beheading of soldiers from 20 Kumaon in 2012; Rajput Regiment in 2011 was shared with the Ministry of Defence; no effort to conceal them... we will share the specifics with you (the media)
  • There is no fissures or distrust in the Army
  • We are a homogenous force; One for all and all for one
  • Don't want to talk about predecessors but where we have faltered, we have apologised
  • There are no divides and I am speaking with conviction
  • We are your army, we will be as strong as you want us to be

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